Realising the vision

12 November 2010

Realising the vision sounds decidedly more glamorous than preparing development and business plans. The vision was the result of extensive consultation in 2006/7 and is contained in the Cathedral’s Vision 2012 document. But how do you bring the dreams and aspirations to fruition?

In early 2009 the Chapter set up the Cathedral Development Group and charged us with making recommendations to them so that the cathedral could have an assured income, be more able to pursue its core mission and develop into the 21st century. The result is an emerging development and business plan.

We started by recognising the work of huge worth that is already undertaken. We added the hopes expressed in the 2012 document plus a few more for good measure and set them all out in a table of activities plotted against the constituents served by them. Thus over 300 items were listed.

If nothing else, this exercise illustrated the complexity of the cathedral’s life and just how many interested people and stake-holder organisations are involved in its future.

Alongside this work Anthony O’Connor, our Director of Development, was undertaking the ground work on his key role of fund raising for the roof, new lighting, organ and choir scholarships.

Like the Development Group, he was taking account of the plans in our immediate vicinity. With Victoria Street due to be closed to traffic, Chetham’s library due to be made a visitor attraction, Victoria Station having a (limited) make-over, the Irwell River Garden, Greengate/Westgate developments and the new Coop Headquarters being built.

Nearly two years on we have reported to the Chapter that, relative to the Cathedral’s income in 2010, our plan is to improve the income stream by £150,000 in 2011 and by more in subsequent years. Not all the detail is complete but by enhancing our role as a visitor attraction, making the most of the space in and around the building as a venue, developing the relationships with those who feel an affiliation with the cathedral’s work and working closely with partners in the proximity, these figures are realistic.

Immediate practical steps involve and have involved the recruitment of more volunteers, enhancing the welcome we give to visitors, making the donations box more obvious, working more closely with the Cathedral’s Visitor Centre, offering more hospitality to more people, building on contacts, pushing the Cathedral’s outreach into the Arndale Centre and Christmas Market and improving communication. The list could go on and we recognise that there is much still to do. Success will require many people to pull together.

Recently the Cathedral has been in a perilous financial state - one that puts its core mission at risk. At the same time God has offered us splendid opportunities not only to address the risk but actually to grow in our life of prayer and worship, of outreach and evangelism, of service and care and to enhance our partnerships, our role in education and our work with other churches, interfaith groups and campaign alliances.

From a position where future viability was in doubt we can work together to secure a twenty-first century cathedral in our modern City and Diocese. If you have any comments or should like more information, please contact Anthony O'Connor via Cathedral office on 0161 833 2220.